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Flight health

Flight health
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A healthy flight is a comfortable flight. Follow our advice as you take to the air

A flight is an almost unavoidable part of modern international travel; and most people consider them a necessary, uncomfortable evil. Follow our advice to mitigate some of that discomfort.

Keep hydrated

Aircraft cabins air is notoriously drying. Lip balm and moisturizer will keep your skin feeling comfortable; and you should sip plenty of water. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can make dehydration worse. If you are hoping to avoid trips to the toilet by restricting your intake of fluids, think again. Those walks up and down the cabin are actually good for you because they can help reduce your risk of…

Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a life-threatening condition that can affect some travellers on long-haul flights. We know that thinking about medical conditions probably won’t make your flight comfortable. But if you are a long-haul passenger, you need to be able to recognize the symptoms.

DVT, a life-threatening blood clot in the leg, may have no symptoms – but when they do occur, they include:

  • calf pain, often a heavy ache that gets worse if you bend your foot up toward your knee
  • warm skin near the clot
  • red skin at the back of the leg below the knee

If you suspect you have a DVT, get medical advice. Do not wait until you get home.

You can reduce your risk of DVT by wearing fitted flight stockings, staying hydrated and by taking a walk up and down the cabin every hour or so. Read more about DVT in our travel advice article.

Prevent jet lag

Your sleep patterns may be disrupted by jet lag and this is generally said to be worse on an west–east journey. Symptoms include:

  • insomnia at night and being sleepy or tired during the day
  • nausea and loss of appetite
  • bowel problems, such as constipation
  • general unwellness

A relaxed journey can help you avoid the worst symptoms. So allow plenty of time and rest up before you leave. It may help if you break up a long journey with a layover, or nap for 45 minutes at what would be bedtime at your destination, even if the sun is shining through your cabin window. And follow the other tips in this article to reduce stress.

Once you reach your destination, give yourself a few days to recover, and jump straight into the new rhythm by eating and sleeping at local times, rather than when your body is telling you to.

Stay comfortable

Your flight outfit should be loose-fitting and comfortable. Thin layers are great because you take them off and put them on as the temperature changes. A pair of warm socks will help if you suffer from cold feet because of poor circulation. You can take even more control of your environment by screening out unwanted light and noise with an eye mask and some ear plugs. The Government of Canada has some advice about dressing for a flight.